By Sharon Space-Bamberger
MONTICELLO Fourteen-year-old Monticello High School graduating junior Aaron Weiss is college bound. He is the second student in Monticello’s history to be accepted for college at age 14. The first was his brother Jared Weiss, now a 15-year-old college sophomore. Jared will turn 16 on June 6.
The day Aaron received his acceptance letter from Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Massachusetts, his mother, Beth, took him to lunch at Yanni’s Restaurant in Monticello. She told the server “We are celebrating! My son is 14 and he’s been accepted for college. His father and I are so proud of him!”
The boys’ father, physician Jonathan Weiss of Bethel, is thrilled.
“It was amazing to have our first son, Jared, achieve so much academically at a young age, but to have a second son do it again is simply astounding,” Jonathan said. “While we certainly tried to create an environment that encouraged academic success, the truth is that Aaron, like his brother, simply loves to learn and pushes himself as much or more than we do. Yet he is fun loving, goofy, easy to be around, a musician, a lover of sports, the list just goes on and on. He is the whole package, and it is such a pleasure just to sit back and see what he accomplishes next.”
Beth added, “One of the biggest kudos I can give Aaron is he has great strength of character. It wasn’t easy growing up as the younger brother of the much acclaimed Jared Weiss. Yet Aaron was never jealous or disheartened. He had his own goals and quietly went about getting the job done. Thankfully, Aaron and Jared have always enjoyed a very close relationship.”
Beth noted that Aaron has always been a straight A student, with one B in a Syracuse University English Course, and that is representative of all his years in school. He will have upwards of 20 college credits upon High School graduation in June.
“Honestly, our focus was always on Aaron having access to challenging material to study and applying himself to do his very best,” Beth said. “IQ testing and scores were never our focus, but we did let him know we had expectations. He should use his gifts and not waste them. Aaron has clearly done just that.”
Aaron’s coursework may not have a lot common with many kids his chronological age, but his social development has not suffered. When Beth attended a Parent-Teacher conference with Aaron’s science teacher she asked, “How is he doing socially?” The teacher replied, “Are you kidding? Did he tell you who his lab partner is?”
Aaron had teamed up with the Monticello football team’s star player, who is significantly older. The boys had bridged the age gap with a mutual love of sports. Aaron’s knowledge of the Monticello football player’s scores, playing on Monticello’s varsity tennis team and being a Giants and Yankees fan didn’t hurt either.
The prodigy plays what his mother describes as “an incredibly mean electric guitar.” He has appeared with his brother Jared as “The Weiss Brothers Band” at local venues like Dutch’s Tavern, The Dancing Cat Saloon and the Nugget. The duo even played in the Market Shed at Bethel Woods.
Aaron also loves animals. He enjoys time with Daisy and Brook, the dogs he shares with his dear friends and neighbors Mike and Karen Fisher. In memory of the Fishers’ recently deceased Terrier-Schnauzer mix “Tina Turner” he wears her dog tag around his neck. He mourns, “There was something about Tina.”
According to Monticello High School Principal Lori James, “He’s an exceptional student who is well rounded. Aaron is the epitome of what we want in education. His parents, Beth and Dr. Jonathan Weiss, advocate for him. We are here to give our students what they need.”
With the exception of kindergarten and first grade in the Homestead School in Glen Spey, Aaron has attended Monticello schools. He skipped a total of four years of school from elementary through high school, entering high school at age 12.
Beth credits Monticello and Homestead school officials with recognizing Aaron’s exceptional abilities. “The district, his principals, his guidance counselors and his teachers have all been very supportive. We are grateful for their cooperation in allowing Aaron to accelerate and excel. They were never obstructive; they too deserve recognition,” she said.
Aaron has also been part of John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth and Study of Exceptional Talent Programs (S.E.T.). S.E.T. support and follows the progress of exceptionally gifted children. To be a member a child needs to score over 700 on either part of the S.A.T. before age 13, Aaron qualified at 12.
As a member of S.E.T. Aaron has studied at a number of college campuses over his summers, including John Hopkins University, Dickinson College, Siena and Franklin and Marshall.
A few of Aaron’s favorite John Hopkins course have included Advanced Cryptology, Robotics and Introduction to Bio-medical Science. The young scholar remembers, “It was very cool!”
The Weiss family contributes to John Hopkins’ scholarship program for exceptional and gifted children with financial need.
Beth Weiss noted, “There are more children like Aaron and Jared in our community who need to be nurtured. We hope all children get the opportunity to reach their fullest potential.”